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Thread: Obama Administration turns against the Free Press

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    Default Obama Administration turns against the Free Press

    Quote Originally Posted by vector7 View Post
    Companion Threads:



    White House threatened Bob Woodward for Obama expose


    • White House threatened Bob Woodward
    • February 28, 2013
    • By: Marv Dumon



    On Wednesday, the White House sent a threatening email to Washington Post editor Bob Woodward who later appeared on CNN's "Situation Room".


    On Wednesday, the White House sent a threatening email to veteran journalist Bob Woodward after he said that President Barack Obama and cabinet official Jack Lew lied about the sequestration cuts. In a Feb. 27 appearance on CNN's "Situation Room," Woodward declined to identify the senior administration official who had threatened him.

    "They're not happy at all," said Woodward, who serves as editor of the Washington Post. "It was said very clearly, you will regret doing this. He added that he was "very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters you're going to regret doing something. Let's hope it's not the strategy."

    Last week, Woodward posted an op-ed piece on the Washington Post. He wrote that the March 1 sequester cuts was originally the White House's idea, and not congress. Since 2011, Obama has appeared in several campaign-style events stating that cuts to the federal budget was proposed by congress. The president has also been blaming House Republicans for looming furloughs to tens of thousands of government employees.



    Woodward: Obama White House sent threats

    In his article, Woodward wrote:
    That statement was not accurate . . . . the president and Lew had been wrong . . . . So when the president asks that a substitute for the sequester include not just spending cuts but also new revenue, he is moving the goal posts. His call for a balanced approach is reasonable, and he makes a strong case that those in the top income brackets could and should pay more. But that was not the deal he made.
    During the final presidential debates on Oct. 22 last year, Barack Obama told Republican challenger Mitt Romney as well as a live television audience that sequestration was a proposal advanced by congress. (Video) After conducting an analysis, PolitiFact.com concluded right after the debates that the president's claim was false. Last week, Obama also claimed in a speech that if the sequester hits, federal prosecutors will have to "let criminals go." On Feb. 19, PolitiFact said that claim is mostly false.

    In 2011, Obama gave a press conference at the White House in which the president stated that he would veto any sequester legislation. (Video) However, on Aug. 2, 2011, the president signed the Budget Control Act of 2011 which mandated automatic sequester cuts.

    In Wednesday's appearance on MSNBC, Bob Woodard blamed Obama's sequestration strategy as "a kind of madness". Appearing on "Morning Joe," he said:
    Under the Constitution, the president is commander-in-chief and employs the force. And so we now have the president going out because of this piece of paper and this agreement. ‘I can’t do what I need to do to protect the country.’ That’s a kind of madness that I haven’t seen in a long time.


    Woodward cited his 2012 best-selling book The Price of Politics in which several insiders within the Obama administration served as sources. Those sources provided insights into how the White House (and not congress) originally proposed the March 1 budget cuts. Earlier this week, Jack Lew was confirmed by the U.S. senate as the next treasury secretary.

    In his book, Woodward also blasts Obama's legion of advisers for opposing U.S. intervention in Syria's civil war. According to Woodward's sources, the president overruled his entire national security staff - including Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta, and Gen. Martin Dempsey - who recommended to the commander-in-chief that the United States arm the Syrian rebels.

    Obama disapproved such plans in order to increase his chances for re-election in 2012, according to White House insiders. So far, Syria's three-year unrest has resulted in the deaths of over 70,000 civilians.

    According to a Feb. 27 ABC News/Washington Post poll, 52 percent of Americans disapprove of how Barack Obama is handling the sequestration cuts. The president also has a 43 percent approval rating on federal spending.

    Lanny Davis: White House Threatened Me, Too

    Thursday, 28 Feb 2013 04:03 PM
    By Lisa Barron



    Newsmax blogger Lanny Davis on Thursday claimed that he too has been on the receiving end of threats from the White House as a result of columns he has written about President Barack Obama.

    Davis, former special counsel to President Bill Clinton, said that his Washington Times editor, John Solomon, “received a phone call from a senior Obama White House official who didn’t like some of my columns, even though I’m a supporter of Obama.”

    “I couldn’t imagine why this call was made,” Davis told Washington radio station WMAL. “And he did threaten that if he continued to run my columns, he would lose, or his reporters would lose, their White House credentials.”

    Urgent: Spending Cuts – Obama to Blame? Vote in Urgent Poll

    Davis was speaking before Gene Sperling, economic adviser to the president, was identified as the White House official who last week told Washington Post editor Bob Woodward he would “regret” writing a column criticizing Obama’s stance on the sequester. Davis did not name the official involved in his case.

    Politico on Thursday released the text of the email exchange between Sperling and Woodward. On February 22, Sperling wrote, “I do truly believe you should think your comment about saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim.”

    The emails show that what Woodward referred to as a threat by the White House on CNN Wednesday night may not have been as menacing as he said.

    Still, said Davis, “I don’t care what the intent was, and I’ll assume people are saying there is no intent, it doesn’t matter. The words ‘you’re going to regret it’ are threatening.”

    As for his situation, Davis said Solomon “didn’t take it seriously, because he didn’t think that could ever happen.”

    “I called three senior people at the White House, and I said, ‘I want this person to be told this can never happen again and it’s inappropriate,’” Davis revealed. “I got a call back from someone who was in the White House saying it will never happen again.”

    He added that the person who called his editor is still in the White House.

    Companion Threads:



    Team Obama Calls Female Reporter “B*tch, C*nt, A$$hole” For Asking Tough Questions

    Posted by Jim Hoft on Monday, March 4, 2013, 7:24 PM

    The Obama Administration wrote an email to a female reporter calling her a “C*nt, A$$hole, and B*tch.”
    But, it’s cool. Barack can sing Al Green.

    The New York Post reported, via JWF:

    Finally, this week, reporters are pushing back. Even Jonathan Alter — who frequently appears on the Obama-friendly MSNBC — came forward to say he, too, had been treated horribly by the administration for writing something they didn’t like.

    “There is a kind of threatening tone that, from time to time — not all the time — comes out of these guys,” Alter said this week. During the 2008 campaign swing through Berlin, Alter said that future White House press secretary Robert Gibbs disinvited him from a dinner between Obama and the press corps over it.

    “I was told ‘Don’t come,’ in a fairly abusive e-mail,” he said. “[It] made what Gene Sperling wrote [to Woodward] look like patty-cake.”

    “I had a young reporter asking tough, important questions of an Obama Cabinet secretary,” says one DC veteran. “She was doing her job, and they were trying to bully her. In an e-mail, they called her the vilest names — bitch, c–t, a–hole.” He complained and was told the matter would be investigated: “They were hemming and hawing, saying, ‘We’ll look into it.’ Nothing happened.”

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    Default Re: Obama Administration threatens the Free Press

    Well... take the guns, attack free speech, tax the hell out of the public, force them on to government medical care, where does it stop? Oh yeah, when they start arresting en mass.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Obama Administration threatens the Free Press

    The Administration is going after anyone getting close to the truth in the AP.

    Except those working for the Administration:
    The Main Stream Media Works for the US Government

    US Justice Department acknowledges wide-ranging surveillance of Associated Press

    Published time: May 13, 2013 20:42



    The president of the Associated Press has sent a letter of protest to US Attorney General Eric Holder over the Department of Justice’s broad surveillance of individual reporters' phone conversations.

    In a letter received by the AP on Friday, the Justice Department acknowledged but offered no explanation for the seizure of two months' worth of telephone records of reporters and editors. AP’s president, Gary Pruitt, called the ongoing monitoring a “massive and unprecedented intrusion.”

    The AP believes that more than 100 journalists are involved in the DOJ’s phone surveillance, which would have involved a wide variety of stories regarding government and other topics. Pruitt has called for the return of obtained phone records, as well as the destruction of all copies.

    "There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP's newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP's activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know," said Pruitt.

    According to the AP’s own reporting of the alleged phone taps, Justice Department rules require that subpoenas of such records from news organizations must be approved by the attorney general. Notification to the AP was made by a letter sent by Ronald Machen, US attorney in Washington, but did not clarify if such rules had been followed.

    It is believed that phone records were obtained as part of a criminal investigation into leaked information about a CIA operation in Yemen that unraveled an Al-Qaeda plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate an explosive on a US-bound jet airliner.

    Speculation on a link to that particular story was made by the AP based on the fact that phone numbers were obtained by the DoJ for five reporters and an editor involved in the May 7, 2012 story.

    According to the AP, CIA Director John Brennan was questioned by the FBI as to whether he had been the source of the leak. In testimony regarding the story in February, Brennan called the leak an "unauthorized and dangerous disclosure of classified information."

    Records obtained by the Justice Department detailed incoming and outgoing calls, as well as the duration of calls, for work and private numbers of AP reporters and offices in New York, Washington, and Hartford, Connecticut, as well as the main number for reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery.

    In its statement regarding the phone taps, the Department of Justice cited an exception to notifying a news organization in advance if it would hamper its own investigation:

    We take seriously our obligations to follow all applicable laws, federal regulations, and Department of Justice policies when issuing subpoenas for phone records of media organizations. Those regulations require us to make every reasonable effort to obtain information through alternative means before even considering a subpoena for the phone records of a member of the media. We must notify the media organization in advance unless doing so would pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation. Because we value the freedom of the press, we are always careful and deliberative in seeking to strike the right balance between the public interest in the free flow of information and the public interest in the fair and effective administration of our criminal laws,” the statement reads.

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    Default Re: Obama Administration turns against the Free Press

    Companion Thread: Holder Secretly Granted Gov. Ability to Develop and Store Dossiers on Americans

    Govt obtains wide AP phone records in probe

    By MARK SHERMAN

    — May. 13 4:47 PM EDT


    FILE - In this April 18, 2013 file photo, Attorney General Eric Holder testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Justice Department has secretly obtained two months of telephone records of journalists for The Associated Press in what AP's top executive says is an unprecedented intrusion into newsgathering. (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File)

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news.

    The records obtained by the Justice Department listed incoming and outgoing calls, and the duration of each call, for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP.

    In all, the government seized those records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices whose phone records were targeted on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.

    In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the government sought and obtained information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation. He demanded the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies.

    "There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP's newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP's activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know," Pruitt said.

    The government would not say why it sought the records. U.S. officials have previously said in public testimony that the U.S. attorney in Washington is conducting a criminal investigation into who may have leaked information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot. The story disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.

    In testimony in February, CIA Director John Brennan noted that the FBI had questioned him about whether he was AP's source, which he denied. He called the release of the information to the media about the terror plot an "unauthorized and dangerous disclosure of classified information."
    Prosecutors have sought phone records from reporters before, but the seizure of records from such a wide array of AP offices, including general AP switchboards numbers and an office-wide shared fax line, is unusual and largely unprecedented.

    In the letter notifying the AP received Friday, the Justice Department offered no explanation for the seizure, according to Pruitt's letter and attorneys for the AP. The records were presumably obtained from phone companies earlier this year although the government letter did not explain that. None of the information provided by the government to the AP suggested the actual phone conversations were monitored.

    Among those whose phone numbers were obtained were five reporters and an editor who were involved in the May 7, 2012 story.

    The Obama administration has aggressively investigated disclosures of classified information to the media and has brought six cases against people suspected of leaking classified information, more than under all previous presidents combined.

    Justice Department published rules require that subpoenas of records from news organizations must be personally approved by the attorney general but it was not known if that happened in this case. The letter notifying AP that its phone records had been obtained though subpoenas was sent Friday by Ronald Machen, the U.S. attorney in Washington.

    Spokesmen in Machen's office and at the Justice Department had no immediate comment on Monday.

    The Justice Department lays out strict rules for efforts to get phone records from news organizations. A subpoena can only be considered after "all reasonable attempts" have been made to get the same information from other sources, the rules say. It was unclear what other steps, in total, the Justice Department has taken to get information in the case.

    A subpoena to the media must be "as narrowly drawn as possible" and "should be directed at relevant information regarding a limited subject matter and should cover a reasonably limited time period," according to the rules.

    The reason for these constraints, the department says, is to avoid actions that "might impair the news gathering function" because the government recognizes that "freedom of the press can be no broader than the freedom of reporters to investigate and report the news."

    News organizations normally are notified in advance that the government wants phone records and enter into negotiations over the desired information. In this case, however, the government, in its letter to the AP, cited an exemption to those rules that holds that prior notification can be waived if such notice, in the exemption's wording, might "pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation."

    It is unknown whether a judge or a grand jury signed off on the subpoenas.

    The May 7, 2012, AP story that disclosed details of the CIA operation in Yemen to stop an airliner bomb plot occurred around the one-year anniversary of the May 2, 2011, killing of Osama bin Laden.

    The plot was significant because the White House had told the public it had "no credible information that terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida, are plotting attacks in the U.S. to coincide with the (May 2) anniversary of bin Laden's death."

    The AP delayed reporting the story at the request of government officials who said it would jeopardize national security. Once government officials said those concerns were allayed, the AP disclosed the plot because officials said it no longer endangered national security. The Obama administration, however, continued to request that the story be held until the administration could make an official announcement.

    The May 7 story was written by reporters Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman with contributions from reporters Kimberly Dozier, Eileen Sullivan and Alan Fram. They and their editor, Ted Bridis, were among the journalists whose April-May 2012 phone records were seized by the government.

    Brennan talked about the AP story and leaks investigation in written testimony to the Senate. "The irresponsible and damaging leak of classified information was made ... when someone informed the Associated Press that the U.S. Government had intercepted an IED (improvised explosive device) that was supposed to be used in an attack and that the U.S. Government currently had that IED in its possession and was analyzing it," he said.

    He also defended the White House's plan to discuss the plot immediately afterward. "Once someone leaked information about interdiction of the IED and that the IED was actually in our possession, it was imperative to inform the American people consistent with Government policy that there was never any danger to the American people associated with this al-Qa'ida plot," Brennan told senators.

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    Default Re: Obama Administration turns against the Free Press

    DOJ Seizes AP Reporters' Phone Records, Won't Say Why

    By Josh Voorhees
    |
    Posted Monday, May 13, 2013, at 5:16 PM


    U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during a Justice Department’s Law Day event May 1, 2013 at the Justice Department in Washington, DC.
    Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images



    The DOJ vs. the AP: Associated Press: "The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative's top executive called a 'massive and unprecedented intrusion' into how news organizations gather the news. The records obtained by the Justice Department listed incoming and outgoing calls, and the duration of each call, for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. In all, the government seized those records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices whose phone records were targeted on a wide array of stories about government and other matters."


    The AP's Best Guess: "The government would not say why it sought the records. U.S. officials have previously said in public testimony that the U.S. attorney in Washington is conducting a criminal investigation into who may have leaked information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot. The story disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States. In testimony in February, CIA Director John Brennan noted that the FBI had questioned him about whether he was AP's source, which he denied. He called the release of the information to the media about the terror plot an "unauthorized and dangerous disclosure of classified information."

    The Slatest: Newt Gingrich Has Come Up Empty in His Weeks-Long Quest to Rename His Cellphone

    Happy Monday and welcome back to the Slatest PM, follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @slatest.

    The Slatest: Abortion Provider Kermit Gosnell Found Guilty on Three Counts of First-Degree Murder

    Obama on IRS: Washington Post: "President Obama on Monday described the reported targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service as 'outrageous' and intolerable, and he called for those responsible to be held 'fully accountable.' Speaking to reporters at a joint news conference with visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron, Obama said he first learned about the issue Friday from news reports. He said the IRS must be perceived to operate with 'absolute integrity' to give the public confidence that it is applying the law 'in a nonpartisan way.' ... Obama addressed the issue amid a growing furor on Capitol Hill over revelations that the Internal Revenue Service used ostensibly political criteria in scrutinizing groups applying for tax-exempt status."

    Obama on Benghazi: NBC News: "President Barack Obama on Monday derided the controversy over inter-agency talking points drafted in the wake of last year’s Benghazi attack, saying that charges of a politically motivated cover-up are a 'sideshow' and little more than a 'political circus.' ... 'The whole thing defies logic,' Obama said at a White House event with British Prime Minister David Cameron. 'And the fact that this whole thing keeps getting churned out, frankly, has a lot to do with political motivations.'"

    Boehner on Benghazi: ABC News: "News of the Obama Administration’s role in the extensive editing of CIA talking points on Benghazi rocked the political world last week and prompted a demand from Speaker of the House John Boehner for the release of all related White House emails, but it should not have been a revelation to the Speaker. The White House first briefed the House leadership on the talking point revisions on March 19. The briefing was given to the House Intelligence Committee, but the White House also invited Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to attend or to send a senior staff member. Boehner did not attend, but he did send staff, according to the Speaker’s office. Those attending the closed briefing were permitted to view the emails, but not to copy them."

    Judge Hints He's OK With Insanity Plea for James Holmes: Reuters: "A Colorado judge found 'good cause' on Monday to allow accused movie theater gunman James Holmes, who could face the death penalty if convicted of murdering 12 moviegoers last year, to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. But Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour Jr. stopped short of permitting Holmes' lawyers to enter a new plea, saying he would render a final decision by the end of the month after prosecutors have a chance to respond and he rules on the legal consequences of an insanity plea."

    Western Retailers Under Pressure in Bengladesh: Wall Street Journal: "In the wake of a building collapse in Bangladesh that killed at least 1,127 garment workers, a group of Western retailers on Monday pledged to avoid substandard factories and the government opened the door to easier formation of unions. The question is whether companies and government officials will pay more than lip service to improving standards in Bangladesh, where clothing exports have been booming. A handful of major apparel companies committed to a ground-breaking five-year accord on safety standards in Bangladeshi factories on Monday. Hennes & Mauritz AB, Tesco, C&A, Calvin Klein parent PVH Corp., German retailer Tchibo and Primark, a European budget fashion chain owned by Associated British Foods, all said they signed the legally binding agreement, which prohibits retailers from manufacturing at factories that fail to meet safety standards and commits them to pay for necessary repairs and renovations."

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    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
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    Default Re: Obama Administration turns on the Free Press

    Breaking: DOJ secretly seized two months of Associated Press phone records?

    posted at 4:51 pm on May 13, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

    What the heck? From the Associated Press:
    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news.

    The records obtained by the Justice Department listed incoming and outgoing calls, and the duration of each call, for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP.

    In all, the government seized those records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices whose phone records were targeted on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.


    AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt dispatched a letter to AG Holder on Monday, and the man is understandably not pleased about what looks like a very serious intrusion from the federal government:

    “There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know,” Pruitt said.


    Update: The Associated Press says that, in the letter they received from the DOJ on Friday notifying them of the DOJ’s actions, they were offered no explanation for the seizure, but sounds like the AP suspects it had to do with a DOJ investigation into who “leaked information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot” that disclosed “details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.”

    This is not a good day for the White House. The IRS has been specifically targeting conservative groups; HHS Secretary Sebelius has been extorting money from health industry executives; and now it looks like the DOJ has been seriously meddling into the freedom of the press? No doubt they’ll claim that it was all for the sake of national security and plugging leaks of classified information, or hey, perhaps that this was just a mix-up by some low-level Justice employees, or something… Or maybe they’re going for a, ‘Heck, let’s just overwhelm everybody and air the thugocracy scandals out all at once’-type strategy?

    Update: Optics.
    Update: Here’s the AP president’s letter to Holder in full.
    Update: And the statement from the DOJ:


    We take seriously our obligations to follow all applicable laws, federal regulations, and Department of Justice policies when issuing subpoenas for phone records of media organizations. Those regulations require us to make every reasonable effort to obtain information through alternative means before even considering a subpoena for the phone records of a member of the media.

    We must notify the media organization in advance unless doing so would pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation. Because we value the freedom of the press, we are always careful and deliberative in seeking to strike the right balance between the public interest in the free flow of information and the public interest in the fair and effective administration of our criminal laws.


    Update: No comment from Carney:
    Update (MKH): This is apparently the leak that launched a thousand phone log seizures:


    WASHINGTON (AP) — The CIA thwarted an ambitious plot by al-Qaida’s affiliate in Yemen to destroy a U.S.-bound airliner using a bomb with a sophisticated new design around the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, The Associated Press has learned.

    The plot involved an upgrade of the underwear bomb that failed to detonate aboard a jetliner over Detroit on Christmas 2009. This new bomb was also designed to be used in a passenger’s underwear, but this time al-Qaida developed a more refined detonation system, U.S. officials said.

    The FBI is examining the latest bomb to see whether it could have passed through airport security and brought down an airplane, officials said.
    They said the device did not contain metal, meaning it probably could have passed through an airport metal detector. But it was not clear whether new body scanners used in many airports would have detected it.

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    Default Re: Obama Administration turns against the Free Press

    OBAMANATION AGAINST THE PRESS: AP protests Eric Holder spying on press activity

    Posted May 13th, 2013




    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news.

    The records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also included incoming calls or the duration of the calls.

    In all, the government seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown, but more than 100 journalists work in the offices where phone recordswere targeted, on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.

    In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the government sought and obtained information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation. He demanded the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies.

    “There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know,” Pruitt said.

    The government would not say why it sought the records. Officials have previously said in public testimony that the U.S. attorney in Washington is conducting a criminal investigation into who may have provided information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot. The story disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.

    In testimony in February, CIA Director John Brennan noted that the FBI had questioned him about whether he was AP’s source, which he denied. He called the release of the information to the media about the terror plot an “unauthorized and dangerous disclosure of classified information.”
    Prosecutors have sought phone records from reporters before, but the seizure of records from such a wide array of AP offices, including general AP switchboards numbers and an office-wide shared fax line, is unusual.

    In the letter notifying the AP, which was received Friday, the Justice Department offered no explanation for the seizure, according to Pruitt’s letter and attorneys for the AP. The records were presumably obtained from phone companies earlier this year although the government letter did not explain that.

    None of the information provided by the government to the AP suggested the actual phone conversations were monitored.

    Among those whose phone numbers were obtained were five reporters and an editor who were involved in the May 7, 2012, story.

    The Obama administration has aggressively investigated disclosures of classified information to the media and has brought six cases against people suspected of providing classified information, more than under all previous presidents combined.

    Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the investigative House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said on CNN, “They had an obligation to look for every other way to get it before they intruded on the freedom of the press.”

    The American Civil Liberties Union said the use of subpoenas for a broad swath of records has a chilling effect both on journalists and whistleblowers who want to reveal government wrongdoing. “The attorney general must explain the Justice Department’s actions to the public so that we can make sure this kind of press intimidation does not happen again,” said Laura Murphy, the director of ACLU’s Washington legislative office.

    Rules published by the Justice Department require that subpoenas of records of news organizations must be personally approved by the attorney general, but it was not known if that happened in this case. The letter notifying AP that its phone records had been obtained through subpoenas was sent Friday by Ronald Machen, the U.S. attorney in Washington.

    William Miller, a spokesman for Machen, said Monday that in general the U.S. attorney follows “all applicable laws, federal regulations and Department of Justice policies when issuing subpoenas for phone records of media organizations.” But he would not address questions about the specifics of the AP records. “We do not comment on ongoing criminal investigations,” Miller said in an email.

    The Justice Department lays out strict rules for efforts to get phone records from news organizations. A subpoena can be considered only after “all reasonable attempts” have been made to get the same information from other sources, the rules say. It was unclear what other steps, in total, the Justice Department might have taken to get information in the case.

    A subpoena to the media must be “as narrowly drawn as possible” and “should be directed at relevant information regarding a limited subject matter and should cover a reasonably limited time period,” according to the rules.

    The reason for these constraints, the department says, is to avoid actions that “might impair the news gathering function” because the government recognizes that “freedom of the press can be no broader than the freedom of reporters to investigate and report the news.”

    News organizations normally are notified in advance that the government wants phone records and then they enter into negotiations over the desired information. In this case, however, the government, in its letter to the AP, cited an exemption to those rules that holds that prior notification can be waived if such notice, in the exemption’s wording, might “pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation.”

    It is unknown whether a judge or a grand jury signed off on the subpoenas.

    The May 7, 2012, AP story that disclosed details of the CIA operation in Yemen to stop an airliner bomb plot occurred around the one-year anniversary of the May 2, 2011, killing of Osama bin Laden.

    The plot was significant both because of its seriousness and also because the White House previously had told the public it had “no credible information that terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida, are plotting attacks in the U.S. to coincide with the (May 2) anniversary of bin Laden’s death.”

    The AP delayed reporting the story at the request of government officials who said it would jeopardize national security. Once officials said those concerns were allayed, the AP disclosed the plot, though the Obama administration continued to request that the story be held until the administration could make an official announcement.

    The May 7 story was written by reporters Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman with contributions from reporters Kimberly Dozier, Eileen Sullivan and Alan Fram. They and their editor, Ted Bridis, were among the journalists whose April-May 2012 phone records were seized by the government.

    Brennan talked about the AP story and investigation in written testimony to the Senate. “The irresponsible and damaging leak of classified information was made … when someone informed the Associated Press that the U.S. Government had intercepted an IED (improvised explosive device) that was supposed to be used in an attack and that the U.S. Government currently had that IED in its possession and was analyzing it,” he wrote.

    He also defended the White House decision to discuss the plot afterward. “Once someone leaked information about interdiction of the IED and that the IED was actually in our possession, it was imperative to inform the American people consistent with Government policy that there was never any danger to the American people associated with this al-Qa’ida plot,” Brennan told senators.

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    Default Re: Obama Administration turns against the Free Press

    Yael T. Abouhalkah

    Obama officials’ chilling decision to secretly seize AP phone records

    May 13

    The decision by President Obama’s Justice Department to secretly seize phone records from a large number of Associated Press reporters and editors is close to being unprecedented in a country where free speech is celebrated. But sadly it’s not exactly shocking, given how ardently the Obama administration has sought to punish government whistleblowers who leak information to the media. It could be that Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder just don’t like secrets getting out.

    This is a chilling development because it shows how far the Obama administration is prepared to go to look into how the press gathers sensitive information about the government.

    And coming on the heels of the IRS follies, it’s been a very bad few days for Americans’ trust in a government led by Obama and his appointed officials.

    In the case of the AP phone records, a lot is still unknown, especially the answer to the prime question: Exactly why did the Justice Department want the extensive records it obtained?

    One possible explanation: The administration is trying to figure out who leaked information to AP reporters about a foiled terrorist attack in 2012. Indeed, the phone numbers of five reporters and an editor involved in an AP story about the plot were among those seized by the feds.

    As this story in The Star notes, the records covered more than 20 lines, including work and personal phone numbers of reporters, along with phone numbers for AP offices in New York and Washington, D.C.

    AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt was understandably outraged and wants all the records destroyed.

    But Holder and his Justice Department in the past have been pretty much stone walls when it comes to giving out information in cases involving whistleblowers who provide to the media information the government doesn’t want the public to know.

    Here’s a good rundown on exactly how tough the Obama administration has been in this field.

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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Obama Administration turns against the Free Press

    If this was under Bush, mobs of lefties would already be forming to torch the White House.

    Though part of me can't help but snicker at the AP getting a nice dose of their own medicine. Reminds me of this...


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    Default Re: Obama Administration turns against the Free Press

    I can't imagine what they were thinking? I mean, I understand that Holder is looking for leakers to punish, but by spying on their closest allies, they've betrayed a trust. It's kind of like the last scene with Robert Downey JR in Natural Born Killers. "What is this, some kind of Joke???????" *BANG*.
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
    -- Theodore Roosevelt


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    Default Re: Obama Administration turns against the Free Press

    I resent the fact that anyone calls this group "Department of Justice" under Holder. It should be referred to as the "Department of Injustice"
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    Default Re: Obama Administration turns against the Free Press

    The releasing of multiple scandals now could be part of a diversionary distraction to lead Republicans away from the most deadly scandal. But more importantly to confuse the public and spin so many stories to keep the one that has the entire Obama leadership teams finger prints all over. If this information got out it could not only impact the 2014 elections but easily 2016 and beyond.

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    How can Obama stay alive in politics if he has Holder going after some of his biggest ass kissers anyway?
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    Default Re: Obama Administration turns against the Free Press

    The Socialist in the MSM (CNN, NBC,CBS, ABC etc.) know what's going on and will do their part to keep spinning the plates for the Administration so they don't hit the floor. If a few break and take down a few low level operatives they will have contained the fallout and kept it from spreading to the leadership.

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    You know, I really thought the crash in this country would be economic. Now I am strongly leaning toward a social-societial collapse based on loss of rights, and a steel fist coming down on the Right Wing.
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    Bah, we just need to get the current criminals out of office and install our own.
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
    -- Theodore Roosevelt


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    Default Re: Obama Administration turns against the Free Press

    Well, the Department of Injustice chief - AG Eric Holder just recused himself from any investigations.... huh?

    (Under Justice regulations, any subpoena for news media phone records requires the "express authorization" of the attorney general. But a Justice Department spokeswoman did not respond Monday night when asked whether the attorney general had recused himself in the investigation.)


    BASICALLY, this means he was directly in line of chain of command, and doesn't want to "be involved" because he might have "been involved".

    There's about to be a media gaggle....

    AP calls government's record seizure a 'massive and unprecedented intrusion'

    The Associated Press has revealed that it's been notified by the Justice Department that investigators obtained records on more than 20 phone lines used by AP reporters and editors last April and May. NBC's Pete Williams reports.

    By Michael Isikoff

    National Investigative Correspondent, NBC News


    WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department used a secret subpoena to obtain two months of phone records for Associated Press reporters and editors without notifying the news organization, a senior department official tells NBC News, saying the step was necessary to avoid "a substantial threat to the integrity" of an ongoing leak investigation.


    Michael Isikoff, NBC News national investigative correspondent, talks with Rachel Maddow about the Justice Department's disclosure that it has seized two months of phone records of many AP reporters, apparently in pursuit of the source of a leak about an al Qaeda bomb plot in Yemen.



    The seizure of the phone records, disclosed earlier Monday by AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt, is the latest move in a series of high profile and controversial investigations of leaks of classified information by the Justice Department. In a letter of protest to Attorney General Eric Holder, Pruitt said obtaining more than two months of AP phone records on 20 separate telephone lines without prior notice was a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into news-gathering operations.


    It also drew a swift rebuke Monday from members of Congress and freedom of the press watchdogs, one of whom called the move "Nixonian."


    Ronald C. Machen, Jr., the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., revealed in a letter to the AP on Friday that federal prosecutors obtained the records. The letter did not give a reason for obtaining the records, but Machen is conducting an investigation into the leak of classified information about a foiled terror plot in Yemen last year. An AP story last spring reported details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al Qaeda plot to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.

    Follow @openchannelblog
    In his letter to Holder, Pruitt said the seized phone records were from early 2012 and included phone lines for AP bureaus in New York, Washington DC, Hartford, Connecticut and the AP line at the House of Representatives. He said the records seized also included those from the home phones and cell phones of individual journalists.


    "We regard this action by the Department of Justice as a serious interference with AP's constitutional rights to gather and report the news," Pruitt said.


    Associated Press Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll calls the Justice Department's actions to be "very distressing."



    Holder last June appointed Machen to conduct the investigation of the Yemen terror plot leak and Rod Rosenstein, the U.S. attorney in Maryland, to oversee a separate probe into the leak of U.S. government efforts to use the Stuxnet computer virus to thwart the Iranian nuclear program. In later Senate testimony, Holder said that he and FBI director Robert Mueller had both been interviewed by FBI agents as part of the investigations because they had prior knowledge of the information that was leaked. (Under Justice regulations, any subpoena for news media phone records requires the "express authorization" of the attorney general. But a Justice Department spokeswoman did not respond Monday night when asked whether the attorney general had recused himself in the investigation.)


    As another sign of the sensitivity of the case, CIA Director John Brennan disclosed earlier this year that he also had been questioned by FBI agents as part of the Yemen probe, but said he was later notified that he was not a subject of the investigation.


    Bill Miller, spokesman for Machen, said in an email that the subpoena for the records was done by the book.


    "Consistent with DOJ regulations, the department provided notification to the Associated Press of the receipt of toll records in a letter dated May 10, 2013," He noted that Justice regulations "do not require notification to the media prior to the issuance of legal process to obtain toll records."


    In a separate email, Miller wrote: "We take seriously our obligations to follow all applicable laws, federal regulations, and Department of Justice policies when issuing subpoenas for phone records of media organizations. Those regulations require us to make every reasonable effort to obtain information through alternative means before even considering a subpoena for the phone records of a member of the media. We must notify the media organization in advance unless doing so would pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation.


    "Because we value the freedom of the press, we are always careful and deliberative in seeking to strike the right balance between the public interest in the free flow of information and the public interest in the fair and effective administration of our criminal laws.”


    The regulations cited by Miller state that subpoenas for the news media in criminal cases should be done only when there are “reasonable grounds to believe … that a crime has occurred” and that the records sought are “essential to a successful investigation.” They also state that subpoenas should, wherever possible, “be directed at material information regarding a limited subject matter and “should cover a reasonably limited period of time and … avoid requiring production of a large volume of unpublished material.”


    Since President Barack Obama took office, the Justice Department has aggressively pursued leak investigation and brought more criminal prosecutions – six in five years – than any previous administration. Those cases, which also have been sharply criticized by press groups, have also targeted reporters’ phone records: James Risen, a national security reporter for the New York Times, had his phone, credit card and bank records subpoenaed as part of a Justice Department prosecution of a former CIA officer accused of leaking classified information on Iran’s nuclear program to him.


    But critics say the extensive nature of the subpoena for the AP phone records goes far beyond what was seen in earlier cases.


    Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, vowed to investigate.


    "This is obviously disturbing," he said. Coming in the wake of other disclosures about the administration’s response to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the IRS’s targeting of conservative nonprofit groups, he said it showed "top Obama administration officials increasingly see themselves as above the law and emboldened by the belief that they don't have to answer to anyone."


    Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he wanted to know more about the justification for the secret subpoena.


    "The burden is always on the government when they go after private information -- especially information regarding the press or its confidential sources,” he said. “… I am concerned that the government may not have met that burden. I am very troubled by these allegations and want to hear the government's explanation."


    Anti-secrecy watchdogs also criticized the move.


    "I've never heard of a dragnet collection effort against a media organization like this," said Stephen Aftergood, who tracks secrecy issues for the Federation of American Scientists. "This was not a targeted monitoring of an individual reporter. It's a sweeping collection of an entire bureau's communications."


    "The Justice Department’s seizure of the Associated Press’ phone records is Nixonian," said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a group that advocates on behalf of whistleblowers. "The American public deserves a full accounting of why and how this could happen."


    NBC News' Capitol Hill Correspondent Kelly O'Donnell contributed to this report.
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    Default Re: Obama Administration turns against the Free Press

    RNC chairman Reince Priebus just called for Holder to RESIGN, immediately.
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    Default Re: Obama Administration turns against the Free Press

    Lawmakers rip Justice Department over AP phone records grab

    Published May 14, 2013

    FoxNews.com

    Lawmakers from both parties sharply questioned the Justice Department over its reported effort to secretly obtain two months of phone records from Associated Press journalists, with House Speaker John Boehner’s office saying “they better have a damned good explanation.”

    The AP disclosed the department’s actions Monday afternoon, revealing that the news service had recently learned the department obtained records listing outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of AP reporters and various AP offices. In all, the government seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012.

    Concern about what the AP’s top executive called an “unprecedented intrusion” quickly spanned party lines.

    Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, said he’s “very troubled” by the allegations.

    “The burden is always on the government when they go after private information -- especially information regarding the press or its confidential sources. I want to know more about this case, but on the face of it, I am concerned that the government may not have met that burden,” Leahy said in a statement.

    The AP also reported that the Justice Department got records for the main AP number in the House of Representatives press gallery. One congressional source told Fox News this allegation in particular “is not sitting too well” with congressional leadership.

    House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said he plans to ask Attorney General Eric Holder “pointed questions” on the issue at a hearing Wednesday.

    Boehner spokesman Michael Steel also had pointed words for the administration.

    “The First Amendment is first for a reason. If the Obama administration is going after reporters’ phone records, they better have a damned good explanation,” he said.

    The allegations come on the heels of a pair of major controversies for the Obama administration. Fresh testimony and newly released documents last week raised questions about whether top administration officials deliberately distorted the details of the Benghazi attack as they first began providing details to the public last September. Then the IRS acknowledged Friday that it singled out conservative groups like the Tea Party for additional scrutiny as it screened applications for tax-exempt status.

    House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy described the AP claims as another blemish for the administration.

    "I am deeply concerned by numerous reports of misconduct by the administration, from (whistle-blower) testimony regarding Benghazi to the Internal Revenue Service targeting groups based on political ideology and now the Department of Justice monitoring journalists with the Associated Press,” he said.

    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney referred questions on the issue to the Justice Department, claiming the White House was not involved.

    “Other than press reports, we have no knowledge of any attempt by the Justice Department to seek phone records of the AP. We are not involved in decisions made in connection with criminal investigations, as those matters are handled independently by the Justice Department. Any questions about an ongoing criminal investigation should be directed to the Department of Justice,” he said.

    Rules published by the Justice Department require that subpoenas of records of news organizations must be personally approved by the attorney general, but it was not known if that happened in this case. The letter notifying AP that its phone records had been obtained through subpoenas was sent Friday by Ronald Machen, the U.S. attorney in Washington.

    William Miller, a spokesman for Machen, said Monday that in general the U.S. attorney follows "all applicable laws, federal regulations and Department of Justice policies when issuing subpoenas for phone records of media organizations." But he would not address questions about the specifics of the AP records. "We do not comment on ongoing criminal investigations," Miller said in an email.

    According to the AP, it was not clear if the records obtained also included incoming calls or the duration of the calls.

    The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown, but more than 100 journalists work in the offices where phone records were targeted, on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.

    In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the government sought and obtained information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation. He demanded the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies.

    "There can be no possible justification for such an over-broad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the news gathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP's news gathering operations and disclose information about AP's activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know," Pruitt said.

    The government would not say why it sought the records. Officials have previously said in public testimony that the U.S. attorney in Washington is conducting a criminal investigation into who may have provided information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot. The story disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an Al Qaeda plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.

    In testimony in February, CIA Director John Brennan noted that the FBI had questioned him about whether he was AP's source, which he denied. He called the release of the information to the media about the terror plot an "unauthorized and dangerous disclosure of classified information."

    Prosecutors have sought phone records from reporters before, but the seizure of records from such a wide array of AP offices, including general AP switchboards numbers and an office-wide shared fax line, is unusual.

    In the letter notifying the AP, which was received Friday, the Justice Department offered no explanation for the seizure, according to Pruitt's letter and attorneys for the AP. The records were presumably obtained from phone companies earlier this year although the government letter did not explain that. None of the information provided by the government to the AP suggested the actual phone conversations were monitored.

    Among those whose phone numbers were obtained were five reporters and an editor who were involved in the May 7, 2012, story.

    The Obama administration has aggressively investigated disclosures of classified information to the media and has brought six cases against people suspected of providing classified information, more than under all previous presidents combined.

    The American Civil Liberties Union said the use of subpoenas for a broad swath of records has a chilling effect both on journalists and whistle-blowers who want to reveal government wrongdoing. "The attorney general must explain the Justice Department's actions to the public so that we can make sure this kind of press intimidation does not happen again," said Laura Murphy, the director of ACLU's Washington legislative office.

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013...#ixzz2THn9rFdT
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    Default Re: Obama Administration turns against the Free Press

    Scandal politics sweep Capitol Hill

    By: Jake Sherman and Lauren French
    May 13, 2013 07:15 PM EDT




    Scandal politics are sweeping Capitol Hill.

    Just days after news broke that the IRS targeted conservative nonprofits, Speaker John Boehner’s House committees will morph into mock courtrooms where the White House will be the defendant in what amounts to a number of high-stakes political trials.

    The most recent scandal to grip the Obama administration came Monday evening, when The Associated Press disclosed that the Justice Department sought its reporters’ phone records — including those of correspondents who sit in the Capitol. Within hours, House Republicans vowed to investigate. To make things worse for President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder is scheduled to be on Capitol Hill Wednesday for a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

    (Also on POLITICO: Journalists fume over DOJ raid on AP)

    That’s hardly the president’s only problem.

    Two separate committees — Oversight and Government Reform, and Ways and Means — will probe whether the IRS was treating right-leaning groups unfairly. Republicans moved swiftly to secure the IRS acting director for a Friday hearing, just a week after the news broke. GOP aides hinted Monday afternoon that widespread calls for the director’s resignation could come shortly.

    The panels will probe whether the targeting of right-leaning groups is systematic, or isolated. Ways and Means Republicans say they are interested in when top IRS officials, specifically former Commissioner Douglas Shulman was told about search terms used to single out conservative groups. Shulman told Ways and Means members in March 2012 that the IRS was not engaged in any manner of political targeting.

    (PHOTOS: 10 slams on the IRS)

    Top GOP sources acknowledge that it’s highly unlikely the White House was directly involved in the IRS mess, but the probe is sure to add to the Republican-spun narrative of Democratic, Big Government overreach.

    The IRS probes might be new to the public, but they’re not to House Republicans, who have long worried about politicization at the agency. The hot-button topic has come up in several committee hearings since the GOP took the majority.

    The inquest into the IRS is just the latest in a string of GOP-led investigations suddenly gaining steam on Capitol Hill. Instead of negotiating with the White House, GOP lawmakers are now investigating it.

    There are currently five separate committee investigations into the attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, and a probe into Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius raising millions of dollars to promote Obamacare. Ways and Means is demanding answers to seven questions on this matter, as well.

    (PHOTOS: 10 hits on Obama and Benghazi)

    All together, roughly one-third of House committees are engaged in investigating some aspect of the Obama administration.

    “The speaker and other House leaders have been clear: Effective, responsible oversight is a key constitutional responsibility of Congress,” said Michael Steel, Boehner’s spokesman. “Whether the topic is the truth about Benghazi, thuggish political attacks from the IRS or the ‘train wreck’ of the president’s health care law, we will keeping fighting to make sure the American people know the truth.”

    As Obama tries to jump-start immigration reform and a deficit deal and raise the debt ceiling, it’s becoming clear it could be a long, hot summer for the White House.

    Republicans are having an “I told you so” moment, as well. For months, the party’s lawmakers have breathlessly proclaimed the IRS was unfairly targeting conservative outside groups, and swore the Obama administration was covering something up in the wake of the attack in Benghazi. Now, others seem to agree.

    The uptick in oversight opens a new chapter in Boehner’s tumultuous relationship with Obama, and ensures that the president and House GOP’s political fortunes will be determined in the unpredictable committee hearing process.

    (Also on POLITICO: RGA: Name a special prosecutor)

    Focusing on scandals that play well with its base ahead of the 2014 midterms is great politics for the House GOP leadership. Republicans have little to do legislatively, as this week it will pass for the 37th time a full or partial repeal of Obama’s health care law. It’s commonplace these days to see bills that could be completed in one day take most of the week.

    The decision to engage in a multipronged attack against the Obama administration poses both risks and rewards for the Republican leadership. The party has yet to fully coalesce around a legislative agenda, a plan to raise the debt ceiling or a broad-based governing strategy. Republicans, who have tried to soften their image, now risk being defined by shouting matches. Their job-creating message is in danger of being overshadowed by scandal.

    Perhaps the best thing about this spate of investigations is that it has unity without having to scrounge 218 votes for any legislation.

    (Also on POLITICO: Congress vows swift probe of flap)

    But the risks for Obama could not be greater. He has just 3½ years to cement a legacy, hardly an easy task when Congress is at war with him. Imagine cutting an immigration deal with Issa — who is involved in that debate — when he’s dragging administration officials in front of his committee all summer. Same goes for Camp, who is yearning to rewrite the Tax Code in his last year as chairman.

    “Our frustration with the broken Tax Code will remain our focus, but it’s just troubling what this IRS targeting means in a larger sense in the way the IRS operates and the Treasury operates,” Ways and Means Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) told POLITICO.

    A top Boehner aide reminded Capitol Hill staff in a meeting that they must keep their message tightly focused on economic recovery, despite the spate of TV-friendly investigations. Senior GOP aides acknowledge they are keeping a close eye on Issa’s oversight panel, which is filled with rock-ribbed conservatives. It was less than a year and a half ago when the same committee held a hearing on contraception without a single female witness. GOP leadership aides say they’ve been impressed with Issa in recent weeks.

    Still, Republicans plan to work to keep scandal front and center over the next few weeks.

    On Benghazi, GOP sources expect that former Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Adm. Mike Mullen will testify before Issa’s committee about the State Department’s decision making after terrorists attacked a diplomatic post there.

    The Energy and Commerce Committee — chaired by veteran Michigan Rep. Fred Upton — announced a hearing into reports that Sebelius was raising millions of dollars in corporate and foundation money to promote the Affordable Care Act.

    The IRS ground is the most fertile, Republicans say. Prior to news of the report leaked, the House Republican Conference had already relayed complaints to leadership about the IRS targeting conservative groups. Louisiana Rep. Charles Boustany and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan have been involved in probing the topic. Senior IRS officials have already testified to both Appropriations and Ways and Means that the agency never targeted conservative groups.

    (Also on POLITICO: Kerrey blames IRS taxpayer advocate)

    Details of when Shulman was told are expected to be included in a Treasury Inspector General of Tax Administration report expected to be released this week. That report — which senior members of the House Ways and Means Committee have yet to see in full — has been in the works for nearly a year. Early reports obtained by POLITICO show that senior IRS official Lois Lerner knew about the program in June 2011.

    Brady said it was “troubling” that the report has been leaked before lawmakers had the chance to review it.

    Florida Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan, a member of the Ways and Means Committee, said he expects the investigation into what happened at the IRS to take months.

    “This is serious enough that it needs go to the full committee. There is nothing that is more important than this issue. I know we’re talking about Benghazi and a number of other issues that are out there, but this is an issue that goes to the heart of who we are — our Constitution and our Founding Fathers,” Buchanan told POLITICO.

    GOP faces tough balance investigating Obama


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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
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    like overripe fruit into our hands."



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